Medieval archeology

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The medieval archeology due to the increasing integration of - Modern Archeology now better than Archeology of the Middle Ages and modern times to call - is an archaeological discipline, the knowledge on the Middle Ages from soil and excavation features and the information obtained during excavations and Bauuntersuchungen (not museum-handed) legacies (Findings and Findings) wins. It supplements knowledge of the Middle Ages with aspects that cannot be obtained from the analysis of written or visual sources.

Methodologically, medieval archeology is related to prehistory and early history ; but in contrast to this, the integration of the written and image sources plays an important role. There are still close ties to the history of art and architecture, geography and, of course, medieval history.

Medieval archeology is a subject of study at various universities such as Tübingen or Bamberg . There are also individual courses at other universities, mostly in the context of prehistory and early history (Bonn, Berlin, Munich, Halle) or art history (Heidelberg). Due to the small number of specialist locations and chairs, medieval archeology is considered a minor subject in German university policy . In other countries, the archeology of the Middle Ages is integrated into the history of art (Mediterranean region) or - as is often the case with prehistoric archeology - in history (Eastern Europe).

Research history

The archeology of the Middle Ages is relatively young and affects a regionally differentiated field at the European level. In parts of European history, the term Middle Ages refers to the epoch between antiquity and modern times (6th to 15th centuries). In Scandinavia, it begins after the Viking Age (800 to 1050).

Development in Germany

After individual beginnings in the 19th century, there was a surge in development, especially in the 1960s, which led to the establishment of monument conservation in some federal states and the establishment of a chair in Bamberg. In addition to geographers and art historians, prehistorians in particular were involved in the development of the subject, which still shapes method and theory today. With the “Zeitschrift für Archäologie des Mittelalters” (Journal for Archeology of the Middle Ages), there has been its own specialist journal since 1974, but it is based on the publisher's private initiative. The German Society for Archeology of the Middle Ages and Modern Times (DGAMN) has meanwhile also been able to expand its newsletter into a recognized specialist journal in which the society's meetings are regularly documented. In 1987 Günter Fehring published an introduction to medieval archeology. Today, by far the greatest number of ground monument preservation activities concern medieval objects.

Since the 1970s, the modern era has also been increasingly included. On the one hand, reference should be made to the basically same methodological problem of combining archaeological and written sources. In addition, there is often the idea of ​​the "long Middle Ages" formulated by the French historian Jacques Le Goff . The discipline is therefore increasingly referred to as "archeology of the Middle Ages and modern times".

Situation in other European countries

In Great Britain and Scandinavia, archeology from the Middle Ages was able to establish itself earlier than in Germany, since here the written tradition begins later and the need for archaeological research was therefore less controversial. Accordingly, an expansion into modern times took place here too. In the Mediterranean area, an examination of church archeology in the context of Christian archeology and Byzantine archeology has led to an archaeological research into the Middle Ages. Numerous survey projects, as v. a. have increasingly been carried out since the 1970s and which proceeded from prehistoric or classical archeology , have inevitably also produced more recent monuments. This expanded the spectrum of questions beyond the sacred buildings. In Italy, a broad-based archeology of the Middle Ages was able to develop, which received important impulses from French and British projects and v. a. was coined by Riccardo Francovich . In Spain the interest was for a long time BC. a. the Islamic period ( Islamic archeology ), but the time after the reconquista is increasingly coming into focus. In 1987 András Kubinyi founded the first chair for archeology of the Middle Ages and the early modern period in East Central Europe at the Loránd Eötvös University of Science in Hungary . The topic covered the period from the founding of the Hungarian state (around 1000) to the end of the Ottoman period in Hungary (beginning of the 18th century) and was strongly interdisciplinary.

Research fields

  • Settlement archeology: rural settlements, cities, castles, monasteries

In practice, urban archeology is an important field of activity and research for medieval archaeologists. In the context of construction measures, it is necessary to react in terms of monument preservation and document in emergency excavations what soil encroachments fall victim to. In urban archeology, there is always a local historical reference, which can contribute a lot to a city's self-image and sense of home.

  • Archeology of the cult: churches, monasteries, burial places, pagan and Jewish cult buildings
  • Material culture research

In contrast to other disciplines such as art history and folklore, archeology taps into material culture primarily from everyday deposits, for example in garbage pits. This means that she generally has the chance to capture not only the elite, but also the lower classes, which are insufficiently present in written and image sources.

  • National history
  • Cultural history
  • Social archeology: social differentiation, gender studies, social practice and social behavior
  • Economic archeology: craft and technology, production and trade
  • Environmental archeology
  • Archeology of war: battlefields, mass graves


In the course of the short research history, the subject has been defined differently:

  • Paul Grimm 1966: 'archaeological research on early history'
  • Herbert Jankuhn 1973: 'direct continuation of prehistoric and early historical archeology, both in terms of problem definition and methodological approach'
  • Günter Fehring 1987: ‚according to the question and work goal a historical science; an archaeological discipline due to the factual sources embedded in the soil and their methods'
  • Barbara Scholkmann 1998: ‚a history science, the subject of research is the objective sources. The questions are aimed at cultural phenomena and developments, she works with a wide range of methods, the core of which is the archaeological methods'

In a new introduction to the subject by Barbara Scholkmann, Hauke ​​Kenzler and Rainer Schreg, there is now a definition that classifies archeology of the Middle Ages and modern times as historical cultural studies and historical archeology. "It analyzes the material legacies of the Middle Ages and modern times using methods from the humanities and natural sciences" and places them in the context of the predominantly written and visual tradition. The aim is to gain an understanding of past societies.

Christianization is decisive for the chronological beginning of the field of work in medieval archeology today, as it not only means a cultural change, but also a change in the source situation: the end of the burials with associated burials and the beginning of a written tradition carried by the monasteries. There is an area of ​​overlap with prehistory and early history. There is currently no clear limit as this is increasingly being integrated into the subject's self-image.

Theory and method

The archeology of the Middle Ages and modern times uses primarily archaeological methods to develop its sources. When interpreting their sources, it is necessary to relate them to the results of other mediaevistic disciplines or rather to the statements of the written and visual sources. This requires a method of interpretation that goes beyond the analogy common in prehistory and early history. The development of theories in this regard is only just beginning, as this problem hardly arose in the context of prehistory and early history (Schreg 2007). According to their method, the archeology of the Middle Ages and modern times (like classical archeology) is therefore a historical archeology for which the coexistence of material and written (pictorial) sources is characteristic. Newer questions in the historical sciences such as the history of mentality (Schimpff 2004) are only slowly penetrating medieval archeology .

Seminars and institutes


  • Section for Medieval and Renaissance Archeology - Department of Culture and Society at Aarhus Universitetet .


  • Archeology of the Middle Ages and Modern Times of the Institute for Art History and Archeologies of Europe - Prehistoric Archeology of Central Europe - Philosophical Faculty I: Social Sciences and Historical Cultural Studies of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg .
  • Institute for Prehistory and Early History and Archeology of the Middle Ages of the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen with the Departments of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences), the Department of Younger Prehistory and Early History (Faculty of Philosophy) and the Department of Archeology of the Middle Ages (Faculty of Philosophy ).
  • Professorship for Medieval History / Historical Auxiliary Sciences at the University of Trier (current owner: Lukas Clemens ) in cooperation with the local classical and geo-archeology as well as the research focus on experimental archeology (ancient history).


Medieval archeology is taught in conjunction with Christian archeology at a number of universities . Independent specialist representatives are named below.




  • Chair of Archeology and Medieval Art History at the Art History Institute of the University of Zurich .




  • Society for Medieval Archeology




  • Günter P. Fehring : The archeology of the Middle Ages. An introduction. 3rd improved and updated edition. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2000, ISBN 3-534-14517-8 (parallel edition: Theiss, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-8062-1480-8 ).
  • James Graham-Campbell, Magdalena Valor (Ed.): The archeology of medieval Europe. Volume 1: Eighth to twelfth centuries AD. Aarhus University Press et al., Aarhus 2007, ISBN 978-87-7934-288-0 .
  • Martin Carver - Jan Klápště (Ed.): The Archeology of Medieval Europe Vol. 2: Twelfth to Sixteenth Centuries, Aarhus 2011, ISBN 9788779342910
  • Volker Schimpff: Medieval archeology and history of mentality: The stylus of the thrifty businessman. In: Volker Schimpff, Wieland Führ (ed.): Historia in museo. Festschrift for Frank-Dietrich Jacob on his sixtieth birthday. Beier and Beran, Langenweißbach 2004, ISBN 3-930036-94-0 , pp. 417-432.
  • Barbara Scholkmann : Archeology of the Middle Ages and Modern Times Today. A position assessment in an interdisciplinary context. In: Journal of Archeology of the Middle Ages. 25/26, 1997/98, ISSN  0340-0824 , pp. 7-18.
  • Barbara Scholkmann: The Middle Ages in the focus of archeology. License issue. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2009, ISBN 978-3-534-20998-9 , ( Archeology in Germany - Special Edition Plus 2009).
  • Barbara Scholkmann - Hauke ​​Kenzler - Rainer Schreg (Ed.), Archeology of the Middle Ages and the Modern Age. Basic knowledge, Darmstadt: Wiss. Book Society 2016, ISBN 9783534268115
  • Rainer Schreg : Archeology of the early modern period. The contribution of archeology in the face of increasing written sources. In: Communications of the German Society for Archeology of the Middle Ages and Modern Times. 18, 2007, ISSN  1619-1439 , pp. 9-20.
  • Marianne Flüeler; Niklaus Flüeler (Ed.): City air, millet porridge and mendicant. The city around 1300 [catalog for the exhibition city air, millet porridge and mendicant monks - the city around 1300]. Stuttgart 1992 (very clear presentation of the archaeological research on the city center in the Middle Ages).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Small subjects: archeology of the Middle Ages and modern times on the small subjects portal. Retrieved June 12, 2019 .
  2. ^ Archeology of the Middle Ages and Modern Times, University of Bamberg
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  5. ^ Roman Provinces, Middle Ages and Modern Period - Leiden University. In: Leiden University. Retrieved January 18, 2017 (American English).
  6. Historical archeology at the Institute for Prehistory and Early History, University of Vienna ( Memento of the original from July 24, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
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